All change for new King’s coins, stamps and postboxes

·5-min read

The end of one reign and the start of another brings with it many changes.

From the introduction of the King’s head on currency and stamps to amended cyphers and altered signatures, here is a look at some of the things which will be affected over the coming months and years:

– Coins and notes

Coins featuring the new King will show him facing to the left.

Elizabeth II’s effigy faces to the right.

Elizabeth II on a coin
Charles’s coinage portrait will face in the opposite way to that of his mother’s (Jonathan Brady/PA)

It is a tradition from the 17th century to alternate the way successive monarchs are facing.

New coins and notes will need to be designed and minted or printed, but are not likely to appear in general circulation for some time.

The Royal Mint advisory committee needs to send recommendations for new coins to the Chancellor and obtain royal approval.

Designs are then chosen and the final choices approved by the Chancellor and then the King.

The Queen’s coins did not appear until 1953 – the year after her accession.

Elizabeth II’s coins are expected to stay in use until they are gradually replaced.

– Stamps

The new King will at some stage feature on British stamps, and others around the Commonwealth.

He may have already sat for such sculptures or portraits, and he will again have to approve the designs.

Charles will replace the Queen on British stamps
Charles will eventually replace the Queen as the figurehead on British stamps (Royal Mail/PA)

For her first stamps as monarch, the Queen was photographed by Dorothy Wilding three weeks after acceding to the throne and again around two months later, finally approving the image in May 1952.

This portrait from 1952 was replaced in 1967 by the famous sculptured head by Arnold Machin, accompanied by the tiny cameo silhouette of the Queen.

– National Anthem

The words to the National Anthem have changed to “God save our gracious King” with substitutions of “him” and “he”.

This is a matter of tradition, not law.

Harry and William singing the National Anthem
The Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Cambridge sing the National Anthem during a Rugby World Cup match (Andrew Matthews/PA)

– Passports and His Majesty

The former Prince of Wales no longer needs his own passport, but for the rest of the UK passports will be issued in his name.

The wording in new passports will be changed at some point.

Her Majesty’s Passport Office will become His Majesty’s Passport Office, as is the case with HM Armed Forces and HM Prison Service.

HM Treasury
The sign may not change, but the full title will now be His Majesty’s Treasury (PA)

Face-to-face, Charles will be Your Majesty rather than Your Royal Highness on first meeting, and Sir on second reference, instead of Ma’am – to rhyme with “lamb” – which was used on second reference to Elizabeth II.

– Cyphers

The new monarch will need a new Royal Cypher – the monogram impressed upon royal and state documents.

The Queen’s ERII features on traditional police helmets and postboxes.

While English queens use the St Edward’s crown, or a variant of it, kings traditionally use the more rounded Tudor crown.

– Postboxes

Any new postboxes could feature the new King’s cypher.

At the start of the Queen’s reign in 1952, there were objections in Scotland to her being styled Elizabeth II because the Tudor queen Elizabeth I was never a queen of Scotland.

A postbox
A Post Office postbox bearing the cypher ERII (PA)

A Post Office pillar box in Edinburgh bearing the ERII cypher was defaced and later blown up.

Its replacement was left blank.

– Charles’s signature

Charles’s signature will change.

Before it was simply “Charles”. Now it will be the name he has taken as King with an additional R for Rex – Latin for King – at the end.

Charles's signature
Charles’s signature will now feature his chosen name as King with an R for Rex (Phil Hannaford/PA)

In criminal court cases, the R to denote the Crown now stands for Rex rather Regina (the Queen).

– Medals

Military medals, such as operational ones and long service commendations featuring the Queen’s effigy, will need to be altered.

– Coat of arms

The royal coat of arms, adopted at the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, will remain the same.

But just as when the Queen became monarch, it is likely that new artwork will be issued early in Charles’s reign by the College of Arms for use by public service bodies such as the civil service and the armed forces.

The Royal Coat of Arms
A restorer tends to the Royal Coat of Arms in Buckingham Palace’s ballroom (PA)

The “very light rebranding” will be hard to spot, but it signifies the opportunity to replace old images, which have been in use for many decades, with newer differently stylised ones.

The Duke of Cambridge will be given an updated coat of arms when he is made the Prince of Wales – a title which he does not inherit automatically.

– Flags

Charles will need a new personal flag as King.

In 1960, the Queen adopted a personal flag – a gold E with the royal crown surrounded by a chaplet of roses on a blue background – to be flown on any building, ship, car or aircraft in which she was staying or travelling.

The Queen's personal flag
The Queen’s personal flag on her plane as the monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh leave Nigeria after a Commonwealth summit (PA)

It was often used when she visited Commonwealth countries.

While the Royal Standard represents the Sovereign and the United Kingdom, the Queen’s own flag was personal to her alone and could be flown by no-one other than the Queen.

– QCs to KCs

In the UK, Queen’s Counsel (QC) refers to a set of barristers and solicitors who the monarch appoints to be a part of Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law.

Legal aid walk-out
QCs become KCs under the King’s reign (PA)

The title switches to King’s Counsel (KC) now a king reigns.

Stationery and business cards may need to be reprinted to reflect the change in the post-nominal letters.